Things can be used as an idea-manager

When I’m working with projects in a #GTD system, I need to have a way to plan projects. Previously I used external apps for this, but having a different view on my task manager app – combining it with Reminders for next steps – I can create an interesting use case for Things, where the app is used as an idea manager and not a task manager.

#Things allows me to create todos and attach long-formatted Markdown notes to them. In addition to that, having the date and checklist-related functionality let me add details on how a task should be performed.

In essence, a to-do for me in Things doesn’t mean a next action. It is closer to the analogy of Trello and cards.

The basic system is built on this foundation:

  • Each idea is represented as a todo.
  • An idea contains detailed planning.
  • The phases of the execution of an idea are tracked with tags, which can be Scoping, Ready, and Blocked.
  • Each idea belongs to a project (or area) and can be scheduled in the time constraints of Things (upcoming, anytime, someday).

An idea is something that is getting worked on as I get more information on the project. These todos are represented by a todo tagged with Scoping. If I have everything collected about the idea, then it gets the Ready tag. These todos no longer contain unknown details or questions, they are well-researched and ready for implementation.

When a todo is completed and needs review or it’s blocked, then it turns into a Blocked idea. I add a new item to the checklist about why it’s blocked, and I use notes to log the history of events. This is a remixed version of the “@Waiting for” list in #GTD integrated into the #Kanban-like status tags.

I don’t work from Things though since I need to have concrete next actions stored somewhere. Since I don’t want to mix plans with next actions, I integrate Reminders with Things ( Things to-dos can be a source of Reminders and Calendar based next actions). Using Shortcuts automation, I can create a linked reminder for any selected Things item, and move it to the appropriate context list in Reminders. Having this separation makes it possible to use Reminders to store bookmarks where I can quickly jump into plans stored in Things. Since Things no longer contains next actions, it can be treated as a #Zettelkasten like #PKM app which is about ideas working towards a clear goal (projects).